September 3, 2009

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Online politics
James Pindell runs NHPoliticalReport.com
By Jeff Mucciarone jmucciarone@hippopress.com

In June, James Pindell, who formerly covered New Hampshire for the Boston Globe, started NHPoliticalReport.com, a site devoted to politics in the Granite State. A one-man show, he’s keeping those mindful of politics up to date on the big races, smaller races and everything in between. 

Q:How are things going with the Web site so far?
Better than I ever thought. I started it June 1, and I was hoping to build an audience this summer. It is an off-year and it’s the summer of an off-year. ...Yet we have found ourselves in a tremendous political period with a lot of interest. We find ourselves in a state where there is a lot of demand for state-based political coverage. [He said a nationwide survey found a 32-percent drop in political coverage.] I’ve seen that in New Hampshire as well….

So as of now membership is free, but your plans are to turn it into a paid subscription…
Instead of the old adage of giving it away for free and trying to sell ads … that works for newsprint like The Hippo; it doesn’t work so well on the Internet. ... At some point in the fall or the beginning of the year, I’ll make the switch.

Who’s reading the site? What are your demographics?
My audience is largely people who are either involved in politics in a professional way or as a hobby .... I moved here in 2002 and started politicsnh.com and that existed for four years, before I went to the [Boston Globe] to cover New Hampshire. I’m trying to ... make it a must-read. ... It’s not targeted at moms and pops. More of the educated political elite or those we call “influencers” — the ones who can influence policy...

Despite the fact that it’s an off year, there’s been a number of things happening you’ve been able to break.
... Politics is the state sport in New Hampshire. ... The whole idea of town hall meetings doesn’t exist in many other states. The congressional districts are in the top 15 [most competitive] in the country, one’s considered in the top five, the other in the top 15. That creates a lot of news, a lot of interest. It’s not boring. The U.S. Senate race, depending on your perspective, is either the number one or the number three race. It’s highly important in a lot of ways. Even in the spring, we expected John Sununu to make up his mind in September. We didn’t know Kelly Ayotte would even be floated. We didn’t really see that coming so fast.

Looking ahead for the next six months or so, what are some things you’ll ... follow closely?
This is an off year so there’s a lot of municipal races. The Manchester mayoral race. If Ted Gatsas is able to win that seat, he will become the top Republican official in the state. ... How Frank Guinta performs as a congressional candidate. There could be a major, major Senate primary on the Republican side. ... There looks to be a Democratic primary in the 2nd District. ... Competitive elections is something a lot of states frankly don’t have right now .... It’s even more rare that every race in the entire state is competitive.

What got you interested in politics ...?
I’m one of those hopeless political junkies. ... I’m originally from Indiana and I went to college in Iowa because of the Iowa caucuses. When I started politicsnh.com, my friends assured me it would never work. But this is the New Hampshire primary — how can I turn that down? ... I really didn’t care which side won. I just find it endlessly fascinating. ... I attended 400 events, because I love it. ... If I cared which side won, I’d be stamping envelopes in the hopes that my candidate wins, versus going out and having real conversations. And I’ll have a job after Election Day. — Jeff Mucciarone